Oilers 5, Mickey Mouse Organization 2
First of all, full props to Allan for one of the funniest things I've read in some time. Scroll down a bit on the above-linked BoA thread: golden.
Anyway: a lot to get excited about, or at least mildly interested about, once you remember we're playing Phoenix. Two for 10 on the powerplay is nice, though might not be the righting of the ship it seems to be, given that the 'Yotes had a 77% PK rate coming in. Good to see Hemsky/Sykora/Thöresen clicking, though again, Phoenix had 33 goals against in 8 games. Basically, everything good that happened is balanced by the fact the Coyotes suck. And the flurry in the second was a bit troublesome. But whatever.
More importantly, let's get back to the Ëlectric Nörseman (you guys can call him what you will, I've found my favourite): MacT had some very kind words after the game, which were well-deserved. That first assist was six kinds of beautiful, and he buzzed all over the whole game, doing more or less exactly what was needed out of the third member of the Hemsky-Sykora-whoever troika: forechecking hard, reading their play, and deferring to them on all matters of offence, so long as you get in position. I can't say enough about how much I like this guy. I've said it before, but it bears repeating: Dvorak with hands (sorry Sacamano).
To turn our attention to the aptly named Dogs, though: how long before they look for a goalie? Not that you can really blame this one on Joseph purely, but his .871 save percentage tonight was only 5 points below his seasonal average, and Quimby has a downright Conklin-esque .811. Their team defence really isn't horrific—238 shots against is middle-of-the-pack—and their offence is getting chances, just not finishing them very much (again, their shots are middle of the pack, but their shooting percentage is 6.4%, 2nd last in the league—oh, and just as a by the by, whoever's hosting Inside Sports on CHED sounds absolutely shocked that Owen Nolan and Jeremy Roenick aren't effective anymore), and one has to think that will improve at least a little when people like Ballard and Reinprecht return. When you're this bad, there's obviously no single answer, but even a league-average goaltender would get them about one goal less a game, which at least keeps them in it through the third period.
I actually want to bring this up because I thought that, before the season started, there were a lot of teams who looked ostensibly set in goal (Phoenix, Detroit, us, Toronto, Philly, Florida, Boston, Colorado, Montréal, others) but could have easily gone either way, if certain goalies either fell off (Joseph, who was falling off already, Hasek), had hot streaks that wouldn't necessarily translate this year (Roli, Huet, Thomas/Toivonen) or just didn't live up to potential (Thedore, Lehtonen, Raycroft, Nittymaki). Obviously, things have gone different ways, and some teams are set, while others are pooched, Phoenix being one of them.
There are, ostensibly at least, still some good goaltenders available. LA has two extra goalies who showed they could play last year in Labarbera and Garon, though neither is a definite world-beater. Buffalo obviously has Biron, and looks like they could be dressing foam targets to play goal anyway, with their offence, San Jose has Toskala and Nabokov, Anaheim has Giguere and Bryzgalov, hell, even we have Jussi and a couple of kids who looked quite good in preseason, if the right offer came by for Jussi. Specific to Phoenix's case, the fact a lot of the teams are in the Pacific doesn't help their chances, and you'd think just by looking that they're not a team with much hope of winning now, and so shouldn't sell the farm (ie high picks), but still, there's bound to be some deals out there, especially this early in the season, for someone who's at least capable of splitting duties with Joseph, if not replacing him outright.
Beyond Phoenix, though, I'd be surprised if certain teams with obvious goalie troubles didn't start looking before, say, December to make a deal: as we proved last year, there's a big difference between a team that's good up front and terrible in net and one that's good up front and even average in net, and I don't think too many teams are as willing to watch points trickle through Ty Conklin's pads while they're doing everything else right as we were.
But anyway, back to the game at hand: GOILERS! And GOALS! GOALSOILERS! Or something.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Oilers 5, Mickey Mouse Organization 2
Posted by DMFB at 9:54 PM